by Gordon Rattenbury and Ray Cook
57 photographs, 11 line drawings, 14 maps
Softback – ISBN 978 0 901461 19 3
h = 230mm, w = 171mm, 132pp
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Almost as soon as the Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal was projected in 1793, the townspeople of Hay-on-Wye, now famous as Britain’s secondhand book capital, realised that the canal could supply them with coal at a much cheaper rate than they were paying at the time. All that was needed was a link from their town to the canal at Brecon. However, it was not until 1816 that the Hay Railway was finally opened. A further extension into western Herefordshire followed in 1818, followed by the Kington Railway of 1820.
Between them, these two horse-worked railways extended to a length of 36 miles. This was greater than any other contemporary railway and was not to be exceeded until the opening of the Grand Junction Railway in 1837. For over forty years they served the small towns and villages of this rural area in the Welsh Marches until they were superseded by locomotive railways in mid century.
This book builds on earlier accounts of the Hay and Kington Railways. The late Gordon Rattenbury, an acknowledged authority on the early railways of south Wales, has used original sources to tell how the railways were promoted and managed and, ultimately, how they ended.
Gordon Rattenbury’s text is complemented by a series of maps by the late Ray Cook which show in detail the course of the two lines. With their help the present-day reader will be able to trace their routes and discover the many surviving features.
“exceptional in dealing with the history of a tramroad which survived for almost forty years . . . a scholarly yet readable book, lavishly referenced and indexed, accompanied by excellent illustrations and maps” – Journal of Transport History